The County With the Highest Rent in Every State

Median rents have hit record highs across the country, thanks to inflation and pandemic-related shortages of housing and building supplies. In many parts of the country, people who choose to rent may find it difficult to meet conventional wisdom’s rule that monthly rent should not exceed 30% of one’s monthly income. While rent prices are much more affordable in some parts of the country, in the majority of states there is at least one county where rents are especially high. 

To find the county with the highest rent in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates of median gross rent of counties and county equivalents from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. It is important to note that the figures reflected here are for 2020, the most recent data available through the census. While prices today are much higher across much of the country, the most expensive rental market in each state in 2020 is likely still one of the most expensive markets in 2022. The national 2020 median rent was $1,096. In 38 of the 50 states, there is at least one county with a higher 2020 median gross rent.  

Housing costs reflect the income levels of the population living there. Housing costs tend to be more expensive in wealthier communities. Of the 50 counties on this list, 48 have higher typical household incomes compared to their home state. California’s San Mateo County, which has both the highest median gross rent in California as well as the country as a whole, has a median household income of $128,088, compared to the U.S. value of $10,674. This is the richest town in every state.

As a result of those higher incomes, most of the counties or county equivalents on this list were actually relatively affordable in 2020. Nationwide, 2020 median gross rent comes to 29.6% of household income. In 37 of the counties with the most expensive rent in each state, that figure is lower. In the Aleutians West Census Area, which is treated as a county by the census, 2020 median gross rent is equal to just 19.1% of income. 2022 rents have risen considerably, so this figure has almost certainly increased in many of these metro areas in the past two years. These are the U.S. cities where the most families need food stamps. 

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